In an e-mail distributed October 10, 2011, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) announced the availability of the final version of the Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act (UELMA). The final version of UELMA is available online at the Penn Law website at: http://www.law.upenn.edu/bll/archives/ulc/apselm/UELMA_Final_2011.htm. It has not yet been posted on the ULC website.
Following ULC’s approval of UELMA at its summer meeting, it was sent to the style committee for final review. That process has now been completed.
The ULC e-mail describes the uniform act as follows:
The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act establishes an outcomes-based, technology-neutral framework for providing online legal material with the same level of trustworthiness traditionally provided by publication in a law book. The Act requires that official electronic legal material be: (1) authenticated, by providing a method to determine that it is unaltered; (2) preserved, either in electronic or print form; and (3) accessible, for use by the public on a permanent basis.
Questions about the Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act should be directed to the Uniform Law Commission.
On 7/18/2011, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) distributed an e-mail indicating that the Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act was “approved during the Vote by States of the 2011 ULC Annual Meeting. Please note that the text is still subject to revision by the Committee on Style, which is scheduled to meet in September.”
In a press release posted on its web site, ULC describes the new uniform law:
A new act approved [July 12, 2011] by a national law group establishes an outcomes-based, technology-neutral framework for providing online legal material with the same level of trustworthiness traditionally provided by publication in a law book. The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act was approved today by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) at its 120th Annual Meeting in Vail, Colorado.
Increasingly, state governments are publishing laws, statutes, agency rules, and court rules and decisions online. In some states, important state-level legal material is no longer published in books, but is only available online. While electronic publication of legal material has facilitated public access to the material, it has also raised concerns. Is the legal material official, authentic, government data that has not been altered? For the long term, how will this electronic legal material be preserved? How will the public access the material 10, 50, or 100 years from now? The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act provides a consistent approach to solving these problems.
The drafting committee’s web page is available at http://www.uniformlaws.org/Committee.aspx?title=Electronic%20Legal%20Material%20Act . As of 7/18/2011, the approved uniform act has not been posted.
UPDATE: 7/19/2011 — The approved, pre-style final text is available online at http://www.uniformlaws.org/Shared/Docs/AM2011_Prestyle%20Finals/UELMA_PreStyleFinal_Jul11.pdf .
The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) is developing a uniform Authentication and Preservation of State Electronic Legal Materials Act. In its current iteration, the draft act appears to require:
- the designation of an official publisher(s) of legal materials,
- the designation of official legal publications,
- authentication of electronic legal publications certifying that the electronic record is a true and correct copy,
- identifying methods that may be used to determine that the record has been unaltered,
- preservation of electronic legal materials by the publisher,
- implementation of back-up and disaster recover to assure longevity of electronic legal materials, and
- updating storage formats to assure longevity of the legal materials.
ACR leadership has asked Jeff Hague (DE) to attend and observe the next drafting committee meeting, which is scheduled for November 19 and 20, 2010, in Washington, D.C. More information about the drafting committee, including links to the latest draft, is available online at http://www.nccusl.org/Update/CommitteeSearchResults.aspx?committee=344.
4/19/2011 Update: Back in February, NCCUSL changed its web site. The new address for the Electronic Legal Materials Act Committee is http://www.uniformlaws.org/Committee.aspx?title=Electronic%20Legal%20Materials%20Act .
This past spring, the American Association of Law Librarians issued its report on “State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources.” For more information, see the April 5, 2007, post entitled “AALL Report on the Authentication of State Primary Legal Resources.”
As a step toward addressing the issue of authentication raised by the AALL report, Utah’s Division of Administrative Rules has added Message-Digest algorithm 5 (MD5) authentication to publication files. An MD5 hash is, in essence, a signature for a file. A user can confirm the integrity of a specific file the user downloads by comparing the MD5 hash provided by the Division with one that the user generates. More information about Utah’s response is posted at http://rulesnews.utah.gov/archives/000667.html.
The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has issued a 254-page report that surveys and analyzes individual state practices with respect to the “trustworthiness” of state-level primary legal resources on the Web. Rules publications are an important part of the report. The “State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources” may be purchased from AALL at http://www.aall.org/products/pub_authen_report.asp. An electronic copy is available from AALL at http://www.aallnet.org/aallwash/authenreport.html.
Updated 2/11/2011: The link to the electronic copy of the report has changed. It is now available at http://www.aallnet.org/aallwash/authenreport.asp.